- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 29, 2007

Indian GM Viswanathan Anand is poised to seize the world chess crown, holding a full-point lead over Israel’s Boris Gelfand with just two rounds to go at the FIDE title tourney in Mexico City. Play in the eight-GM double-round-robin event ends tomorrow.

The popular Anand, 37, has been the class of the tournament, but Gelfand cut into his lead with a win over Armenian Levon Aronian in Thursday’s Round 12, while Anand was content with a short draw with Russia’s Peter Svidler. Gelfand, who has drawn with Anand twice, will have to hope the Indian suffers an upset over the final two rounds to have any chance of catching him.

Through Thursday’s play, the standings were: Anand 8-4; Gelfand 7-5; defending champion Vladimir Kramnik (Russia), 6½-5½; Peter Leko (Hungary), Alexander Morozevich (Russia) and Aronian 5½-6½; Alexander Grischuk (Russia) and Svidler 5-7.

He may be languishing in the bottom half of the cross table, but Morozevich has played a critical role in deciding the tournament.

His Round 9 upset of Kramnik dealt a lethal blow to the champion’s hopes of holding onto his crown, leaving him two full points behind Anand with just five games to be played. The Russian’s loss to Anand in Round 11 then propelled the Indian to a big lead.

Kramnik’s strong opening preparation finally let him down, as Morozevich astutely steered him into an obscure Benoni sideline (3. e3!?) that left Black struggling to find a coherent plan. Keeping the pawn on e3 provides an expected benefit for White, as Morozevich repeatedly uses the vacant e4-square to good effect.

Black’s confusion is evident on 15. g5!? (provocative, but there is no easy way to punish White here) Ne8 16. f4 Qe7 17. Ra3 Rc5?!, a move Kramnik himself later slammed as having little point. After 21. Ne4! Nxd2 22. Qxd2 Qd8 23. Qb4!, Black is just hoping to hold his queen-side together.

White steps on the gas with 25. Qxc4 Qb6 (Rxb2 26. Rxa6 Qe7 27. Rfa1 is also good for White) 26. Qc6! Bxb2 27. Qxb6 Rxb6 28. Ra2 Bg7 (Morozevich later recommended the more double-edged 28…Ng7 29. Nxd6 Bd4!?, but then White still has 30. Nc4! Rb4 31. Rc1 Rc8 32. exd4 Rbxc4 33. Rxc4 Rxc4 34. Rxa6 Nf5 [Rxd4?? 35. Ra8+] 35. Bg4 Rxd4 36. Bxf5 gxf5 37. d6 Rxf4 38. d7 Rd4 39. Ra8+) 29. Rc1 h6 30. h4 hxg5 31. hxg5 f6 32. Rc6!.

White’s point is that the solidifying 33…f5 can be met by 34. Nxd6! Nxd6 35. Bd5+ Kh7 (Nf7 36. Be6 Kh7 37. c7 Nd6 38. Rh2+ Bh6 39. Rxh6+ Kg7 40. Kf2 and wins) 36. Rh2+, with a decisive edge. But White’s c-pawn becomes too powerful as Morozevich negotiates severe time pressure after 33…fxg5 34. Nxg5 Nc7 35. Rd2 Rd8 36. Bg4 Bc3 37. Rd3 Ba5 38. Kg2 d5 39. e4! d4 40. e5, and White’s win is just a matter of time.

The move 42. Rh3 threatens 43. Bd1 Ba5 44. Bb3+ Kg7 45. Rh7+ Kf8 46. Rh8+ Ke7 47. Rxb8, forcing new concessions from Black. After 46. Rxg6+ Kf8 47. Rd6 d2 48. Ke4!, Kramnik resigns as White prevails after 48…Ne8 (Bh4 49. Rd8+ Kg7 [Ke7 50. Rd7+ Kf8 51. Rxc7] 50. Rd7+) 49. Ne6+ Kf7 (Ke7 Rd7 mate) 50. Rd7+ Kg8 51. Rd8 Kf7 52. Bh5+.


Any lingering hopes Kramnik may have had of a comeback were put to rest in the next round, when he and Anand played to a scintillating draw in the tournament’s most anticipated pairing. Pre-tournament preparation again played a huge part, as Anand was fully armed for White’s novelty 17. b3!? in a highly topical QGD Semi-Slav line.

Black’s promising exchange sacrifice with 20. Ne4 Qb4! 21. Nd6+ Rxd6!? 22. cxd6 Nd7 was banged out by Anand almost instantaneously, and White appears to lose the thread of the game after 23. a4?! Qxd6 24. Bf3 Nb6 25. axb5 cxb5. Black’s pressure starts to look very menacing after 28. Qxh6 Nf4!, setting the sly trap 29. Qxg5?? Ne2+ 30. Kh1 Qxh2+!! 31. Kxh2 Rh8+ and mate next move.

But White shows real fighting spirit in dealing with Black’s pressure, and Kramnik just misses a real opportunity to turn the game around: 32. Qf8 Ne2?! (Anand admitted later he overlooked White’s reply) 33. Rfe1! Nxd4, when now 34. Rad1! would have posed real problems for the pinned Black knight. Kramnik instead played 34. Red1!?, but after 34…e5 said he just “forgot to take the g-pawn” with 35. Qh6!. The point is that White’s passed h-pawn appears far more mobile than Black’s a-pawn, which Anand cannot push without exposing his king to attacking threats.

Dynamic equality is restored on 35. Rac1? Qd6 36. Qg8 f6 37. Rc8 (the queen-and-rook battery looks powerful, but it’s hard to see any real mating ideas) a5! (just in time) 38. h3 a4 39. Qe8 Kb6! 40. Rb8+ Ka5 41. Ra8+. White can only keep checking, and Black, perfectly happy with a draw at this point in the tournament, shows no inclination to send his king into murky water with 41…Kb4. The players agreed to split the point.

FIDE World Chess Championship Tournament, Mexico City, September 2007


1. c4c525. Qxc4Qb6

2. Nc3g626. Qc6Bxb2

3. e3Bg727. Qxb6Rxb6

4. d4Nf628. Ra2Bg7

5. d50-029. Rc1h6

6. Nf3e630. h4hxg5

7. Be2exd531. hxg5f6

8. cxd5d632. Rc6Rxc6

9. 0-0Bg433. dxc6fxg5

10. h3Bxf334. Nxg5Nc7

11. Bxf3Nbd735. Rd2Rd8

12. a4a636. Bg4Bc3

13. g4c437. Rd3Ba5

14. Be2Rc838. Kg2d5

15. g5Ne839. e4d4

16. f4Qe740. e5Bb6

17. Ra3Rc541. Rb3Rb8

18. Bf3Ra542. Rh3Ba5

19. Bd2Nc543. Rh6Rb2+

20. Qe2Nb344. Kg3Be1+

21. Ne4Nxd245. Kf3d3

22. Qxd2Qd846. Rxg6+Kf8

23. Qb4b547. Rd6d2

24. axb5Rxb548. Ke4Black


FIDE World Chess Championship Tournament, Mexico City, September 2007


1. d4d522. cxd6Nd7

2. c4c623. a4Qxd6

3. Nf3Nf624. Bf3Nb6

4. Nc3e625. axb5cxb5

5. Bg5h626. Bxb7+Kxb7

6. Bh4dxc427. Qh5Nd5

7. e4g528. Qxh6Nf4

8. Bg3b529. Kh1Qd5

9. Be2Bb730. f3Rd8

10. 0-0Nbd731. Qg7Rd7

11. Ne5Bg732. Qf8Ne2

12. Nxd7Nxd733. Rfe1Nxd4

13. Bd6a634. Rde1e5

14. Bh5Bf835. Rac1Qd6

15. Bxf8Rxf836. Qg8f6

16. e5Qb637. Rc8a5

17. b30-0-038. h3a4

18. bxc4Nxe539. Qe8Kb6

19. c5Qa540. Rb8+Ka5

20. Ne4Qb441. Ra8+Draw

21. Nd6+Rxd6agreed

David R. Sands can be reached at 202/636-3178 or by e-mail at dsands@washingtontimes.com.

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